Maintenance and repair of escalators at MRT stations taking too long

Commuters on an escalator of an MRT station, on June 23, 2019.
Commuters on an escalator of an MRT station, on June 23, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

I've often seen escalators at MRT stations being barricaded, with a sign that they are under maintenance, repair or refurbishment, but with no one working on them for long periods of time.

Such examples can be seen at Jurong East, Clementi, Commonwealth and Bugis stations. The sign at the Bugis station escalator says the work will be completed in October, but there are usually no workers around.

Escalators play an important role in the movement of commuters at MRT stations.

It is no use having an efficient train system when escalators are out of service for extended periods.

During peak hours, the station platform often gets crowded very quickly if escalators are out of service, and commuters have to crowd around the remaining working escalators and staircases and lifts. It is even worse if there is a train service disruption.

Escalators can be maintained and repaired outside of working hours, just like trains. If spare parts are not available, the escalators should not be shut down just to wait for spare parts to arrive. This may explain why some escalators are shut down with no work being done. Or is there a shortage of workers?

It must not be assumed that because there are other escalators, it is not important that one is down. Short-term shutdowns are acceptable, but having escalators being idle for prolonged periods suggests a lack of urgency and poor planning.

Our rail operators should look into the issue, as escalators are integral in supporting an efficient train system.

Soo Weng Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2019, with the headline 'Maintenance and repair of escalators at MRT stations taking too long'. Print Edition | Subscribe